Giants’ Bradberry: ‘It’s an honor for coaches and employers to ask me to go against the top receivers’

James Bradberry was raised in Alabama, where he attended Samford University of the Southern Conference. He played his first four NFL seasons in Charlotte, the USA’s 22nd-largest metropolitan area.

This week, Bradberry, a lockdown cornerback, officially joined the Giants and he is eager to conquer the big city, on and off the field.

Giants general manager Dave Gettleman held the same position with Carolina when he selected Bradberry in the second round of the 2016 NFL Draft.

“I know what type of organization Mr. Gettleman is trying to put together with the Giants, and I wanted to be a part of that,” Bradberry told today. “Talking to some of the players on the team, they had nothing but good things to say about it.”

Those players included former Carolina teammates David Mayo and Rashaan Gaulden, and Chad Slade, an offseason workout partner in Birmingham.

Bradberry said the presence of Gettleman – who spoke to Bradberry’s agent, not the player – was not a deal-maker but did provide some security.

“I don’t feel like he was a big factor, who necessarily the G.M. was,” he said. “But the fact that I knew him, I’m familiar with him, it kind of gave me a sense of comfort going over there.”

Bradberry became the Giants’ oldest and most experienced cornerback the instant he signed his contract. Though naturally quiet and reserved, he is perfectly comfortable being a leader for the team’s young corners, including DeAndre Baker, Sam Beal and Corey Ballentine.

“That’s what I’m here for,” said Bradberry, who is currently training in Charlotte while all NFL training facilities remain closed due to the coronavirus pandemic. “That’s why I’m here, they wanted to bring my knowledge in and that’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to try to correct as many wrongs as I see.

“I feel like leadership can come in different forms. It doesn’t always have to be a vocal leader. It can be a person that leads by his actions. I’m also a one-on-one kind of guy. When I go to coach them up, I don’t try to call someone out or nothing like that. I’m more of a personable guy.”

Bradberry started every game in which he played with the Panthers (60 regular season and one postseason). He missed just four games in four years and only one in the three seasons from 2017-19. His career totals include 268 tackles (229 solo), eight interceptions that he returned for 53 yards, 55 passes defensed, 3.0 sacks, seven tackles for loss and one forced fumble.

But those numbers provide only a limited view of Bradberry’s skill and success. The NFC South is teeming with great receivers – Julio Jones in Atlanta, Michael Thomas in New Orleans, Mike Evans in Tampa Bay. The Panthers routinely assigned Bradberry to cover their opponents’ best wideout.

“I thought Julio Jones was the best receiver, but all of those guys are elite,” Bradberry said. “Michael Thomas, Mike Evans are not too far behind.”

No one will completely shut down receivers of that caliber, but Bradberry challenged them on every play and forced them to work for each catch.

“It’s an honor for coaches and employers to ask me to go against the top receivers,” Bradberry said. “It just says that they have respect for my game and have the ultimate confidence in myself and my ability.”

Bradberry said he tries to “devote at least an hour, hour and a half a day to watching film outside of the locker room during the season.” The knowledge he gains from that study and his meticulous practice habits help Bradberry compete against those top receivers. So does an unshakeable confidence and responding to his coaches’ directives.

“I try to keep my technique and fundamentals the same, no matter who I’m playing against,” Bradberry said. “But as far as how I apply those fundamentals and techniques, it might change based upon the receiver.”

Some of the NFL’s most entertaining verbal sparring is the banter between wide receivers and defensive backs. But Bradberry and his marquee opponents largely refrain from such conversations.

“I might say something if he says something to me,” he said. “But for the most part, in the past few years, we haven’t done too much trash talking.”

Bradberry’s only experience in the New York/New Jersey area is from a brief stay here last year to do an interview. But he is excited to become a resident of this region.

“I’m looking forward to it,” he said. “What they (the Giants) had to offer (is) endless opportunities off the field. It’s a bigger city, there are a lot more opportunities. I really want to go to a basketball game at Madison Square Garden. I just want to go around and inhale the history of New York and everything that comes with it. The air, the food, the culture, all of it.”

No one can be certain when that will be, but both sides will be pleased when it happens.

(Courtesy Michael Eisen/NY Giants)

Buccaneers re-sign CB Ryan Smith

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers re-signed CB Ryan Smith, the team announced.

The 26-year-old Smith appeared in 57 games, including 16 starts, for Tampa Bay, notching 98 tackles (one for loss), 12 passes defensed, four forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries and one interception over his first four seasons in the league.

On special teams, Smith has notched 15 tackles and a forced fumble, while also returning ten kickoffs for 169 yards (16.9 avg.). He led Tampa Bay with seven special teams tackles in 2019.

Last season, Smith was suspended for the first four games after violating the league’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. The fifth-year cornerback returned to the field in Week 5.

Vikings re-sign OG Dakota Dozier

The Minnesota Vikings re-sign OG Dakota Dozier, the team announced today.

According to the Star Tribune’s Ben Goessling, it’s a one-year deal worth roughly $1 million.

The seven-year veteran joined Minnesota as a free agent last season. The West Columbia, South Carolina, native was selected by the New York Jets in the fourth round (137th overall) of the 2014 NFL Draft and has appeared in 54 career games with 11 starts.

Dozier, 28, most recently set a career-high with four starts in 2019, three at right guard and one at left guard, while also seeing time at center and appearing in all 16 games for the first time in his career. 

As a collegian, Dozier made 44 career starts for Furman, and was a First Team All-SoCon selection following both the 2012 and 2013 seasons. Dozier was also named a unanimous First Team FCS All-American following the 2013 season, only the seventh unanimous All-American in program history.

Buccaneers re-sign Ndamukong Suh

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have re-signed defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh, the team announced today.

According to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, it’s a one-year deal worth $8 million.

Last season, his first with Tampa Bay, the 33-year-old Suh recorded 41 tackles (seven for loss), 14 quarterback hits, four fumble recoveries, four passes defensed, 2.5 sacks and two defensive touchdowns. He started all 16 games for Tampa Bay, anchoring the NFL’s top run defense (73.8 yards allowed per game), while also ranking third on the team with 14 quarterback hits. His active streak of 131 consecutive starts is the longest among NFL defensive linemen and the third-longest among all players.

Suh’s two fumble return touchdowns last season tied for the most ever in a single season since the 1970 merger. Also, his four opponent fumble recoveries tied for second in the NFL, while his six recoveries dating back to the start of 2018 are tied for the league lead.

Through his first ten seasons in the NFL, Suh has played in and started 158 games, recording 519 tackles (114 for loss), 180 quarterback hits, 58.5 sacks, 36 passes defensed, eight fumble recoveries, four forced fumbles, three defensive touchdowns, and one interception. Since entering the league as the No. 2 overall pick of the Detroit Lions in the 2010 NFL Draft, Suh has earned five Pro Bowl selections and five Associated Press All-Pro honors (three first-team, two-second team).

Since his rookie season in 2010, Suh’s 114 tackles for loss are the seventh-most in the NFL, and his 180 quarterback hits also rank seventh. He stands first among defensive tackles in passes defensed (36), second in tackles (519), second in tackles for loss (114) and fourth in sacks (58.5). Suh’s three career fumble recovery touchdowns are tied for the ninth-most in NFL history.

Jags’ Marrone on Eifert: ‘He has shown the ability to be a playmaker in the passing game’

The Jacksonville Jaguars have signed former Pro Bowl TE Tyler Eifert, the team announced today.

According to the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, it’s a two-year deal worth $15.5 million.

The 29-year-old Eifert has struggled with injuries the past few years, and from 2016-18, he played in only 14 games, but Eifert was able to play in all 16 games for the Bengals last season. In 2019, Eifert caught 43 passes for 436 yards and three touchdowns. 

“Tyler is a proven contributor in this league, and we’re excited to add him to our team,” said Head Coach Doug Marrone. “He has shown the ability to be a playmaker in the passing game, especially in the red zone, while also adding immense value as a blocker in the run game. I expect him to make us more efficient and productive on the offensive side of the ball, and after speaking with Tyler, I know he’s eager for this opportunity.”

Eifert posted career-high numbers in 2015 while also receiving the team’s Ed Block Courage Award nomination. That season, he tallied 52 receptions for 615 yards, and 13 touchdowns in 13 games played en route to his first career Pro Bowl selection. His 13 touchdownss were second-most in the NFL in 2015.

If Eifert can stay healthy, he could help the Jaguars’ passing game and the running game in 2020. Eifert is considered a decent blocking tight end, and since entering the NFL in 2013, Eifert is the only tight end with at least 20 touchdowns in fewer than 60 games played. While he was able to play all 16 games last season, he only played 45% of offensive snaps. Therefore, it should be interesting to see how he will be utilized by the Jaguars next season.

Marrone on Melvin: ‘He’s an experienced player and has produced at a high level in this league’

The Jacksonville Jaguars agreed to terms with seventh-year CB Rashaan Melvin, the team announced today.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Melvin signed a one-year, $2.25 million deal with the Jaguars.

Melvin, 30, has appeared in 64 career games with 40 starts. He has played for Baltimore (2014-15), New England (2015), Indianapolis (2016-17), Oakland (2018), and Detroit (2019) and has totaled 242 career tackles, 41 passes defensed, four INTs and three forced fumbles.

Melvin played in 13 games (12 starts) for the Lions in 2019 and recorded a career-high 68 tackles and 11 passes defensed.

“We’re really excited to add Rashaan to our secondary as he’ll compete at the outside cornerback position,” said Head Coach Doug Marrone. “He’s an experienced player and has produced at a high level in this league. He has good size and speed and does a great job of competing play-in and play-out and challenging the receiver at the catch. We’re excited to add him to our roster.”

Jacksonville’s secondary will look a little different in 2020. Gone are corners Jalen Ramsey and A.J. Bouye, and as Marrone stated, Melvin will be in the mix for one of the starting corner spots for the Jaguars next season.

Tom Brady tells when he decided to move on from Patriots

All great things must come to an end, which is the case with six-time Super Bowl winner Tom Brady and the New England Patriots.

Last week, the 20-year veteran decided to take his talents to Tampa Bay to join Bruce Arians and the Buccaneers. 

Before Brady made his decision to leave New England public, which he did via Twitter, Brady met with Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

Today, on a conference call, Brady discussed what transpired between him and Kraft:

Question: (On when he decided to move on from New England and how hard it was to tell them)

Brady: It was really the night that I spoke with Mr. Kraft and asked if I could come over and see him. We spoke and had a great conversation, and I just wanted to express what he’s meant to me in my life. We spoke with Coach Belichick at the same time – we were in different locations, so we talked to him and it was a great conversation. I got a chance to talk to Jonathan Kraft as well. All three of those guys have been involved with so many important decisions in my life – career-related, personal-related – and I leave there with great admiration for the people in that organization. It’s a world-class, first-class organization in every way, and I wanted to leave it that way too.

“I know the Patriots have a great team; they always do – they have great players, great leadership, great coaches – and I certainly wish them the best. But for me, I’ve got to transition and focus on the opportunity that I have to make the current situation I’m in as best as I can. They hired me to do a job here, and I’m going to go in there and do it like you’ve always seen me do for a long time, like the fans have always seen me do, like opposing coaches, my teammates have seen me do. I’m going to give it everything I’ve got like I’ve done every day of my life for as long as I’ve been playing this sport.”

At 42, no one knows what Brady has left, but certain guys should not wear different jerseys, and sadly, Brady will end his great career in a different jersey.

Report: Panthers to release Cam Newton

The Cam Newton era is over in Carolina. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Carolina Panthers are expected to release Newton today.

Last week, the Panthers permitted Newton to explore trade options. The 30-year-old Newton played in only two games last season due to a foot injury. 

The quarterback room is going to look very different in Carolina next season. The Panthers signed QB Teddy Bridgewater last week and are expected to sign XFL star QB P.J. Walker, who was coached by Panthers head coach Matt Rhule in college. Also, the team is expected to trade QB Kyle Allen to the Redskins.

It should be interesting to see where Newton will land in 2020. The 10-year veteran is still young and still can be a very good quarterback in the NFL, and with the way things went in Carolina, he is going to be very hungry to prove the doubters wrong. 

Jags’ Marrone: ‘Al(Woods) adds another respected veteran presence to our defensive line group’

The Jacksonville Jaguars agreed to terms with 11th-year DT Al Woods, the team announced today.

According to the NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, it’s a one-year, $2.75 million deal.

“Al adds another respected veteran presence to our defensive line group and brings vast NFL experience to our roster,” said Head Coach Doug Marrone. “Over his career, he has proven that he can stop the run and take on blocks in the middle of the defensive line, which helps address an important area for us heading into the upcoming season.”

Woods, 6-4, 330, was originally drafted by New Orleans in the fourth round (123rd overall) of the 2010 NFL Draft. In his 10 seasons in the NFL, Woods has played in 125 career games (48 starts) and registered 204 tackles (101 solo), 18 tackles for loss, 5.5 sacks and recovered two fumbles. Woods has played for five teams during his NFL career, including Seattle (2011 and 2019), Indianapolis (2017-18), Tennessee (2014-16), Pittsburgh (2012-13) and Tampa Bay (2010).

Last season, Woods played in 14 games with five starts for the Seahawks and registered 32 tackles and a career-high two fumble recoveries. He started all 16 games for the first time in his career in 2017 with Indianapolis and tallied a career-high 44 tackles (20 solo), five tackles for loss and 1.0 sack.

In 2019, the 32-year-old Woods was suspended for four games after violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances. Woods would miss the final two regular season games and playoffs for Seattle before being reinstated on January 13.